Tomorrow is a big day in Congo.
It is the 30th of June. The celebration of independence of Congo. This is a big holiday throughout the country, and particularly here in Goma. The president of Congo, and even the presidents of a number of other countries will be here in Goma tomorrow. In fact many of them have already arrived in anticipation of the festivities.
In case I have confused you, Goma is not the capital of Congo, far from it. It is not the most logical place to invite hot shots of all sorts to celebrate this grand holiday. It is an unruly city on the very edge the country. But it precisely this reputation as the Wild west (or rather Wild East) of Congo, that has led the President to choose to celebrate here.
So for the past month Goma has been a giant dust bowl. The roads of Goma, which are perpetually in a ridiculous state of disrepair, have been dug up, marked off, and attacked with a variety of roadwork tools. Road workers have appeared out of nowhere and worked day and night over the past month, to turn Goma into a presentable city.
Today is the 29th. Many of the roads remain dug up, full of dust, and half-finished at best. However street lights have been "planted" along some of the main roads and I am told that they will shine for the first time this evening. Walls along the main roads have been repainted and buildings that have remained unfinished for months, have suddenly been finished.
A market on the edge of town has been completely redone and fair grounds have been created. Apparently there are some pretty snazzy looking places around here somewhere.